From the Chair - May 2018
The Board held its regular quarterly meeting earlier than usual on April 23rd at our HQ in Austin. We did this in order to ensure we considered whether to adopt the new Appraiser Qualification Board’s criteria for education and experience that went into effect at the federal level on May 1, 2018. In the agency’s traditional spirit of not having unnecessary requirements that exceed federal minimum requirements, we approved emergency adoption of the new federal AQB criteria effective as of May 1, 2018.
It has been an exceptionally busy and challenging time since we last met in February. The Commissioner sent an open letter to our stakeholders in April outlining the multiple steps that are being taken to address the lapses in our customer service standards. After several incremental fixes did not produce the required improvements, more extensive measures are now being implemented. Thanks to our staff for their extraordinary commitment to be retrained, work overtime, add more staff, find process improvements and implement new technology to address every reasonable alternative for making improvements. We will continue to explore and implement every step that we believe will make a positive difference. We are highly encouraged that this multi-dimensional approach will more rapidly produce many reliable improvements. We will continue our intense focus on these matters until we restore the levels of service we hold ourselves accountable to.
We have received the interim report made by the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) team that conducted our audit in February. It notes two areas where we sent incomplete or inaccurate data to the National Registry. Both instances have been analyzed and corrected, with new controls put in place to prevent any reoccurrence. Over the last three months, many of the Board’s advisory committees and working groups met to advance work in their assigned areas of responsibility and we heard reports from each of them. Our internal auditors and the State Auditor’s office have completed their work on some of our personnel-related policies and their findings were presented as well. After considering guidance from the Governor’s office and other state leadership, we accomplished the most extensive strategic planning listening tour in agency history in March and staff compiled the draft plan for our consideration. We voted to approve it as written and delegated to the Executive Committee any further approval needed if the Commission recommends any changes. At the same time, we received a presentation on the first draft of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. The second draft will follow in July.
On April 2nd we held our 2nd Annual Residential Realty Issues Summit focused on the effects of disasters on the housing market. With our partners from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M and the Austin Board of REALTORS, panels of market participants and related experts explored relevant aspects of the issue. Many positive comments were heard from those in attendance, and we look forward to next year!
The information gathering and detailed observation phase of our Sunset Review process kicked off in April with a long and wide ranging introductory meeting followed by several in-depth interviews with our key operating divisions. Staff from the Sunset Advisory Commission were with us for the meeting to observe in full all that we do to carry out the requirements of our mission. They have also been present for many of the advisory and working group sessions prior to this meeting. Posted on our website is a letter from Ken Levine, the Executive Director of the Sunset Advisory Commission explaining the steps in the Sunset Review and inviting all who wish to be a part of the process. They will welcome your input.
Our quadrennial Rule Review process continues, and we adopted some rules to remove barriers or add clarity, and learned about an opportunity to potentially reduce the long-term cost of fingerprint based background checks. In addition, we learned that the AMC Registry will debut on July 16, 2018. We covered a lot of ground during our meeting, and we hope you will take the time to review the video minutes posted on our website, or to stop by for one of our future meetings. We love having license holders stop in to see how the agency team and the policy makers work together. Thank you!